BOOK REVIEWS (Part 2)- AUTUMN READS EXTENDED CUT

Autumn Good Reads Picture Books for children with She Narrates

I know, I know, Autumn Reads is officially over! But Pratham and I couldn’t get over it, and then we thought why should we? Every night our reading time has been full of warmth, smile, and eagerness (and ‘Book Hugs’)! We decided to extend our Autumn Reads for another week (at least!)

 So here’s your ticket to our #AutumnReadsExtendedCut!

‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales

Book review of of the book 'Anna Banana' by Treehouse Tales

Aligning with my son Pratham’s learning stage and his phonics building years, any book that would stimulate his learning while he enjoys it would be a winner for me. ‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales (or any Treehouse Tales series) written by Delyth Owen is enterprising for helping with children’s learning and reading skills, especially phonemes, in a creative story format. The Treehouse Tales series have been developed especially for children in the age group 5-7 years to encourage the love of books and learning. Treehouse Tales has seven books in its series. They are Aled Apple, Sally Snail, Oliver Onion, Luigi Lemon, Matilda Tomato, Oriol Orange, and Anna Banana.

We are at the beginning of their book series this Autumn season, and I came to know about these books from a friend of mine who runs a (doorstep) library. The illustrations in the Treehouse Tales’ introductory books provide opportunities to cultivate a child’s natural curiosity in knowing the wider world.

A little about the book Anna Banana…

It is a 20-page book written and illustrated meticulously, the left side of each page set has maximum 2-3 lines and the right side for image commensurate to the text on its left. The pages are laminated, keeping in mind the wear and tear care. Plus, the highlighted phonograms in the texts- Single and Multiple phonograms. Single phonograms (for example s, I, h, f, t, j, a) are highlighted in green and the multiple phonograms (for example ea, sh, ‘ee’, ch, voiced ‘th’, unvoiced ‘th’, short ‘oo’, long ‘oo’) in yellow. You’d also notice the red arrows on certain words; when you join them, they make a phonogram.

Anna Banana lives on a beautiful island in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, which is hot. Anna’s little windows open to lots of banana trees where beautiful colourful birds perch. Anna Banana also goes to the beach sometimes. She loves exploring her island home. She likes pelicans, so does Pratham ☺   I was fascinated with Anna’s flip-flops and Pratham with the beautiful birds and her beach ball.

This book closes with an open-ended question to develop a child’s thinking skills, and we can take its help to ask our curious little learners. We can also enhance their knowledge by sharing a little about the Caribbean.

Enjoy reading and raising your little learner with Treehouse Tales!

‘Have you filled a Bucket Today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness’ by Carol McCloud, the ‘Bucket Lady’

Book review of of the book 'Have you filled a Bucket Today? - A guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud- the bucket day

October which is also ‘The Anti-bullying’ month let us Read, Raise, Rise our spirits. Let us foster empathy and self-worth through simple yet effective prose on the bucket philosophy to our children!

‘You feel happy and good when your bucket is full,
And you feel sad and lonely when your bucket is empty.
Other people feel the same way, too.
They’re happy when their buckets are full
And they’re sad when their buckets are empty.’

The above excerpt from the book ‘Have You Filled a Bucket Today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness’ by the “Bucket Lady” Carol McCloud published by Nelson Publishing & Marketing, is enough to give an overview to the bucket philosophy (or the bucket fillosophy) that she wants to convey from her books. It is a children’s non-fiction book on social topics- self-esteem and self-reliance. This book also makes a good parenting read. The vivid illustrations by David Messing makes it comprehensible even to the children who have begun reading (2+ or 3 years old). The bucket fillosophy is helpful for all ages to grow in kindness, love and appreciation by “filling buckets” and leading a happier and rewarding life of oneself and others.

This heart-warming book begins by introducing the concept of an invisible bucket. An invisible bucket which each and everyone in the whole wide world walks around with. Later the writer explains the purpose of the invisible bucket, what makes our invisible bucket full or empty, who is a bucket filler, what is bucket dipping, how do we feel when our invisible bucket is full or empty, what are the ways we can fill and empty our buckets and that of others. The book closes with a self-reflection question- Did I fill a bucket Today?

When you fill the bucket of others, your (invisible) bucket fills too and you feel happy. When you hurt or tease others, sadly the good feelings and thoughts from your bucket dips making you sad and lonely. Read the book to know more about the bucket fillosophy! For activities and free downloadable resources, visit Bucket Fillers, Inc. at www.bucketfillers101.com. For Pratham, a downloadable colouring page on “I Am A Bucket Filler” and an online bucket jigsaw puzzle was my pick from the above link. Pratham and I solved the puzzle in 11:45 (mm: ss) in our first attempt. Pratham, my little one is still getting the hang of the puzzle ☺. Also, the self-reflection questionnaire page and Bucket filling checklist from A to Z can be helpful.

Fun bucket jigsaw puzzle score when Pratham and I played online from bucketfillers101.com

Our next book from Bucket Fillers, Inc. is ‘Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness’ to know the three rules for a Happier Life.

What do you want to feel all day every day- Happy or sad? What are some of your ways to fill your invisible bucket?

Read, teach and enjoy the bucket fillosophy!

‘The Wonderful Things You’ll Be’ by Emily Winfield Martin

Book review of of the book 'The Wonderful Things you'll be' by the writer illustrator Emily Winfield Martin

This is the first time 
There’s ever been you,
So I wonder what wonderful things
You will do…’

The New York bestselling book, full of hopeful musings ‘The Wonderful Things You Will Be’ written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin and published by Penguin Random House, is a celebration of possibilities and the love, acceptance and joy parents feel for their children… irrespective of whatever and whoever their children grow up to be. And above lines are from this book.

It is a family book as well as a children’s book. It is a timeless book for parents and children, I feel. But technically, for young kids and parents 2+ through 7 years.

For parents, this book is a gift of feeling the joyride of holding the baby in hands and the endless excitement and anticipation, going round the clock of the wonderful things they’d grow up to be. For children, the bright illustrations, surprise red fold out with kids in costumes (some in superhero costumes) towards the end of the book, simple and rhyming text is captivating and thought-provoking.

The book has many positive self-affirming lines and words, another set of lines from this book that I, as a parent feel reassured reading are:

I know you’ll be kind…
And clever…
And bold…
And the bigger your heart,
The more it will hold.

Open-ended questions like ‘What will you grow up to be?’, ‘Will you stand up for good by saving the day?’, ‘Will you tell a story that only you know?’, ‘or play a song only you know how to play?’ encourages thinking, listening skills and let their imagination run riot of all the wonderful things they can think of.

Activities: Invite your child to decide their costumes from the red fold out and encourage them to answer what they would like to ‘Be’ and wear. Pratham pointed out the child who was wearing the costume of a tree, and when I asked him what inspired him to choose a tree costume, his answer intrigued me. He said “I would tell everyone don’t cut trees. And when they see me walking, they will not cut trees.

I wonder what wonderful things you’ll grow up to be Pratham! 

Always remember, whatever you choose to do and whoever you grow up to ‘Be’, Mommy and Daddy would always love you! We know that your kindness, cleverness and boldness would always shine through and so would the love that you share with yourself and others. You are the unique YOU!

Be blessed! Shine on always!
A little emotional at the moment, excuse me…
Let us get going with the fourth one in this series…

‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson

Book review of of the book 'A Squash and a Squeeze' by the author Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Let us tap into the fun of some Onomatopoeia and Ballad! Julia Donaldson’s book ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ (illustrated are by Axel Scheffler) would be Pratham’s fifth book read, after ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book’, ‘The Gruffalo Song and Other Songs’ and ‘The Snail and the Whale’. ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler has been published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Julia Donaldson blends simple stories with rhyming, rhythmic and repetitive words classically, making it riveting for readers. She has used alliterative words and phrases in this picture book like- tiny for two, titchy for three, she shooed out, she shoved out, grumble and grouse- which makes it an enjoyable read. The repeated chorus: “Wise old man, won’t you help me, please? My house is a squash and a squeeze.” gives a ballad feel to the story. Her books are a treasure trove to encourage interest in reading and writing and also in improving a child’s phonological awareness (in addition to the children’s nursery rhymes). This book has a lot of scope for an early introduction to poetry and rhymes. It also has fun reference to animals which adds to the joy and jolly reading time with children.

Now, a little about the story…

A little old lady isn’t satisfied with her house and sighs of it being too small for her. A wise old man passing by hears her complain and then the old lady asks him for his help on how she can make her house feel bigger. This wise old man gives an ironic solution. Rather suggesting the old lady remove the things from the house, he asks her to take all of her pets inside the house with her. And one by one, as she starts taking her animals inside her house, first her hen, then the goat, followed by the pig and lastly the cow, her grumble, and grouse keeps increasing instead of decreasing seeing the mess created by each animal in the house. With a final outcry ‘Heavens alive!’ she calls the wise old man again for the help, this time the old man advises her to take all the animals out. Would the life of the old lady come to the full-circle back where she started, sighing for a squash and a squeeze house with no place to sneeze or would there be any improvement in her understanding about her house and space in it? Read this book to your child to know more.

After reading the story, ask your little learner what did they learn from the story? Was the little old lady happy with her squash and squeeze house? Was the little old lady happy in the end?

And did you know?

‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ was one of Julia Donalson’s television songs which was made into a book in 1993.

Reading her books with my son makes my life come to full-circle – back to my childhood days ☺.  For Pratham, I had to help him understand the moral of the story. Share your first time experience of reading this story to your child in the comment section below.

Here comes the last one! Hold your breath!

‘Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’ ©Astley Baker Davies Ltd.

Book review of of the book 'Peppa's Pumpkin Party' based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’

So when we were looking around for some Autumn reads inspiration- the season of pumpkin spice- we wanted a pumpkin-themed-spooktacular* story. Hence, Peppa’s Pumpkin Party was our first choice in the reading list. But releasing the book review of Peppa’s Pumpkin party towards the end is intentional, just as Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in the mirror is… Haawwoooooww! Hee! Hee! Hee! Hee!

Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK, is a children’s picture book based on the TV series of ‘Peppa Pig’ ©Astley Baker Davies Ltd.. ‘The Peppa effect’ is on everyone and on us too. The book adaptation is also as thrilling and exciting as the TV series of it. The best part about the names of the characters in the Peppa Pig’s TV series/books is alliteration in their names like Peppa Pig, Danny Dog, Candy Cat, Emily Elephant, Rebecca Rabbit, Suzy Sheep, and many more. All the names have the repetition of sounds, you see!

The story opens with Peppa and George getting ready for the pumpkin party. Peppa’s family has hosted a spooky spectacular pumpkin party, and everyone is invited in Halloween-themed costumes at Peppa’s place. It is fun to watch the creative costumes of Peppa and her friends. It is thrilling to see Peppa’s house decorated with balloons, cobwebs and hanging toy bats. And now, it is intriguing and spooky to notice Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in the mirror as she is speaking to Suzy Sheep. Let us know what you think about Madame Gazelle’s missing reflection in this story implies, is she in a vampire theme too, as Suzy Sheep?

The story closes with everyone meeting at Peppa’s place and enjoying the pumpkin party and the pumpkin pie with some music. Illustrations have translation sounds of everyone’s activities, eating pie with ‘Chomp Chomp’ and giggles with ‘Hee Hee’ and Daddy pig’s classic chuckle as ‘Snort’.

There’s a twist in the activities for children. No open-ended questions for children! Yes, you heard it right! This time parents challenge yourself to see if you remember all the names or not, and the costumes of all the characters of this story ☺   And sometimes it is fun to fumble on the names or costumes when your child remembers all the names and costumes of every character in the story, isn’t it?

Daddy pig has prepared pumpkin pie for all, and there’s plenty of pie for everyone. Join in and have fun reading the book, bedtime or Autumn time or anytime because there’s plenty of pumpkin pie for everyone all the time! Chomp! Chomp! Snort! ☺

*- the word has been taken from the book cover

And taddaaa! This is how our full week of reading looked like!

Also, this was part-2 of our Autumn Reads book reviews (‘the extended cut’ as we are enjoying to call it)! In case, if you missed out on the first part, here’s the link to it.

Enjoy the Autumn season reading to your little learners! Happy Halloween and Happy Parenting!

PS: If you enjoyed this Autumn Reads series as much as we did, let us know if you would want more of it! Guess who is already making space in the bookshelf!


Disclaimer: The reviews expressed in this blog is to provide helpful information. It is entirely based on my (Pallavi Prakash Kumar) book reading experiences with my child, Pratham. The information contained is to help parents; you may consider the one mentioned above as per your significance. All the external links have been provided for informational purposes only. ‘She Narrates’ does not bear the responsibility for the accuracy/legality on content on external sites or the subsequent links. Contact the external site to find answers to questions concerning their content.

Leave a Reply